After this past weekend, the Emory baseball team remains undefeated, having successfully pulled off a three-game sweep against Huntingdon College (Ala.). With these victories, Emory improved their record to 10-0. The team’s perfect record and strong team play earned the team the No. 1 spot in D3baseball.com’s rankings.
Head Coach Mike Twardoski stressed that despite their ranking, the team still has much more to accomplish.
“As far as being number 1, I am very proud, but we have a long way to go,” Twardoski said. “We will keep working hard to try to keep it going.”
Senior designated hitter Brian Hernandez expressed his excitement at Emory’s No. 1 ranking and what it means for the team moving forward.
“I hope we’re able to keep this level of play up,” Hernandez said. “Even though right now we’re still not playing our best, if we’re one of the best teams in the country it’ll be exciting to see what we can do once we get into the swing of things
The series against Huntingdon began Friday, Feb. 24, the team’s first away game of the season. Senior pitcher Jackson Weeg started on the mound for Emory, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits, three walks and six strikeouts.
Trailing by one run in the third, Emory lit up the scoreboard with a monstrous inning. The Huntingdon pitcher was atrocious, giving up three hits and a walk. Huntingdon’s pitcher hit two Emory batters, allowing the Eagles to waltz through two of the six runs in the inning. Six different Eagles recorded RBIs.
Although Huntingdon scored seven runs in the game, Emory’s batters continued to execute offensively. The Eagles added six more runs over the course of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Hernandez and senior designated hitter Jeff Ronpirin were Emory’s top offensive players. Hernandez went three for four with a double, triple and two RBIs. Ronpirin went two for five with a double and three RBIs.
After Friday’s 12-7 win, the Eagles looked to notch another victory against Huntingdon Saturday, Feb. 25. In a lower scoring game, Emory was lifted by sophomore starting pitcher Billy Dimlow. Allowing one run (zero earned) and striking out 10 batters through eight innings, Dimlow stymied Huntingdon’s offense.
Emory’s bats were active early in the game, marking three runs in the first two innings. In the second inning, the Eagles loaded the bases after two singles and a walk. Emory went on to score two runs after wild pitches by the Huntingdon pitcher.
With Dimlow shutting Huntingdon down and an early three run advantage, the Eagles glided to a 5-1 victory. Emory’s top hitters were senior third baseman Philip Maldari, who went three for four and scored twice, and Hernandez, who went two for five with an RBI.
Emory returned home to Chappell field to take on Huntingdon one last time Sunday, Feb. 26. Senior pitcher Luke Emmett led the team on the mound, remaining unscathed until the fifth inning.
The Eagles had an early lead, scoring four runs in the third inning. Ronpirin led the scoring with a three-run triple. However, Huntingdon struck back in the fifth inning, accumulating five runs and surpassing Emory 5-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, Emory trailed Huntingdon 6-4 but responded by scoring four runs. Emory tacked on one more in the bottom of the eighth before senior relief pitcher Kyle Monk went out to save the game. Monk pitched a scoreless top of the ninth and recorded his second save of the season. The Eagles’ 9-6 victory topped off a three-game sweep over Huntingdon.
Recapping a speech made by the seniors, Hernandez noted that the speech gave the team the motivation it needed to have a big seventh inning.
“In between innings, the seniors noticed that our team was down and had very low energy, which is very unlike us,” Hernandez said. “We called up a meeting and said they put up five runs in an inning and we can do the exact same thing.”
Hernandez and Ronpirin wrapped up an impressive weekend with two hits each Sunday. Both batters were effective, driving in runs with two and four RBIs, respectively.
Reflecting on what contributed to Emory’s victories and where the team could use improvement, Hernandez mentioned strengths in both hitting and pitching along with their mishaps in the field.
“We are finally starting to get our offense rolling and our pitching has continued to work well,” Hernandez said. “But if we want to keep winning our defense needs to step up a little bit.”
Twardoski emphasized the importance of collecting another series sweep and getting production when they needed most.
“Whenever you sweep a series, especially a three game series, you are playing well,” Twardoski said. “We pitched great again and got our timely hits. We put together consecutive good at bats and that is why we scored more runs.”
Emory will return to the diamond Tuesday, Feb. 28, for one game against Berry College (Ga.).